Merrill Lynch has apparently decided it’s had enough of Hydie Sumner, a former broker who sued the firm successfully in 2004 for sexual discrimination.
According to a July 31 filing to an arbitration panel, Merrill says it has honored its part of the deal and has twice offered to reinstate Sumner into a management position, which she has both times refused. Therefore, Merrill is requesting that it be free of any further obligations to Sumner and for the case to be officially closed.
Sumner, who worked as a broker in Merrill’s San Antonio branch from 1991 to 1997, won $2.2 million in a 2004 arbitration panel ruling that found the firm guilty of sexual discrimination. She spent seven years in and out of court testifying about the lewd and discriminatory behavior of management and colleagues at the San Antonio branch but surprisingly also wanted to return to Merrill and the branch to finish her career. In 2005 she won that right with another arbitration panel ruling.
But apparently interpretation of that ruling hasn’t been the same on both sides. According to Merrill’s filing, the firm twice offered Sumner a position as an Associate Director (AD) in its East Bay Complex in northern California, a region Merrill says Sumner expressed interest in working. But both times she turned down the deal, which has led to Merrill’s request that it be free of further dealings with Sumner.
Linda Friedman, Sumner’s lawyer, says her client’s refusal to take the job is due to the fact that it wasn’t what was agreed to in the arbitration panel’s decision. In email correspondence between Friedman and Merrill’s counsel, Friedman says the panel required Merrill “to reinstate Sumner as a broker to the San Antonio office and to allow her to attend the Management Assessment Center (MAC).” In the July 31 filing Merrill Lynch calls Sumner’s insistence on attending MAC “nonsensical” and that “entering the management development program as an Associate Director will provide Sumner with the training, guidance and feedback that she seeks.”
According to Friedman, Sumner doesn’t see it that way. She wants to be treated like all other management candidates and not be inserted into a program she hasn’t earned the right to attend. “She is concerned that placing her in the position…will cause those who report to her to say she was not qualified to get there on her own,” writes Friedman in an email to Merrill.
According to Friedman, graduates of MAC also get greater access to job opportunities across the firm. “Simply put, she wants to go through the process and follow what the panel set forth as the appropriate route to return to Merrill.”
Sumner was not able to comment but it is expected that she will officially respond to Merrill’s filing in October. For background on the Merrill Lynch/Hydie Sumner saga please visit the stories below:
"Merrill Broker Expects Ruling Soon"